The Joy Set Before us

It’s hot outside. There are birds perched on the telephone wire that is in line with the view from my window. It’s bright and blue outside, and evidence of summer rests on the back of my neck and the place where my skin meets my hair. A matted mess. It’s nowhere near Christmas time. But a baby in a manger, surrounded by animal dung, smelly and squealy and bloody, is what’s on my mind. A couple with blistered feet from a long journey, one of them a young woman about to give birth, come to a place expecting welcome and respite and are met with rejection and degradation. There was no place for people like them but with the animals. And so they go, with no other option, to the shed with the hay, the pigs, the dirt and the dung, to wait for the promise that came nine months before. There in the dirt Joseph sits where Mary kneels, jaw clenched, eyes shut, hair drenched with the cursed pain that labor brings — the pain that no other women are around to counsel her, guide her, encourage her through. With weary breath, caked in grime, they bring Him into the world, the one who would change it all. How she must have looked into his eyes, the grit of the backdrop fading away into the sweetest love. How Joseph must have embraced her. How the peace of God must have filled that manger.

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Snotty Noses and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know how I got sick. I’m up at 3 am, sitting upright trying to drain my snotty nose, frustrated that it winds up in my already snotty throat. I wracked my brain trying (which is never a smart 3 am activity) to figure out how this happened again. For three weekends in a row, I’ve had a cold. There were a few healthy days in between when I thought it was over. But how in the world is it happening again? I wonder. And for some reason, my 3 am brain figures it out. I call to mind a few days ago when I thought twice about the snotty-nosed street boy who shared his cookies with my daughter.

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While Dad’s Away

This is the nature of his work, what he’s been given to do. His work isn’t here, it’s there in between the peaks I can see from the rooftops of this crowded valley. This was the second time he’s been away, it was longer than the first. This time though, he had more company. Maybe it was that fact and also the fact that I’d survived once before that made this time easier.

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